Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The right to choose personal responsibility

The "personal responsibility" lectures only apply when it's convenient.


One Paycheck Away from the Street

There are times when I worry about the quality of reporting in today's world. Sometimes it's like the reporters are just "repeaters", simply publishing what's handed to them in talking points. And then I come across a story like Amy Dominello's in the Greensboro, North Carolina Record. Not just a re-write of a press release, it actually tells a story and has all of the elements of great journalism. It tells the story of Michael Brown, who lost his job and is now homeless. Michael has started a blog, View From the Sidewalk, which he updates from the Greensboro Public Library, and he's offering a first person account of his situation. His blog is getting worldwide attention. People are encouraging him to put a Paypal donation button on his blog, so that they can contribute money to him. The newspaper story interests me in a number of ways; the writing style, as well as the subject matter. A few years ago, my wife and I lost our jobs and we were a couple of pay checks away from the street. She and my then infant son went to live with her mother and I stayed with friends. (By the way, our situation is a lot better now. We're 10 pay checks away from the street) The right wing radio talk show hosts have spent years demonizing the homeless by calling them mentally ill or claiming that somehow they preferred living under an overpass, rather than being gainfully employed. During local ratings periods, there would be the inevitable undercover piece where they follow a "will work for food" guy around and find that he lives with his mother in a $200k (in Texas) house. I have always felt that this type of reporting is extremely selective and has the effect of making people skeptical about the true intentions of the homeless. This was apparent to me when a guy with one arm and a sign came up to me at an intersection. I gave him a $5 bill. My son, who was about 14 at the time said that he would probably spend it on booze or drugs. I asked him how he could be so sure about that and he told me he saw a report on Channel 4 about people who claim to be homeless, but are not. I told him that we have no way of knowing whether somebody is a fraud or not and that in the case of somebody who appears homeless, I'd rather take a chance that they're genuine, rather than penalize the many who are truly homeless. I've been taken in and swindled by auto mechanics, lawyers and salesmen. That doesn't mean that I avoid all mechanics, lawyers and salesmen, since there are bad apples in every group. Besides, I've never seen an ad that says "No homeless person will call."

More polls than Krakov

By way of democrats.org

The first set of primaries are but a week away. It almost makes me feel as I did as a boy when the "Boys of Summer" took the field for the first time each year. Being a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan, I am used to hearing the phrase, "hope springs eternal." With election season nipping at our heels, these numbers begin to take on new meaning. Unless otherwise indicated, all polls are conducted by Rasmussen Reprts, 500 respondents, have an MoE of +/- 4.5%, and applicable trend lines in parentheses.

Oregon Governor
Ted Kulongoski (D): 51%
Kevin Mannix (R): 36%

Ted Kulongoski (D): 47%
Ron Saxton (R): 33%

Ted Kulongoski (D): 48%
Jason Atkinson (R): 36%

This is terrific news, as the incumbent governor has struggled somewhat in some of the 50 state polling on governor popularity across the country.

Alabama Governor
Bob Riley (R): 53%
Lucy Baxley (D): 37%

Roy Moore (R): 44%
Lucy Baxley (D): 46%

Illinois Governor
Rod Blagojevich (D): 42% (37)
Judy Baar Topinka (R): 36% (48)

Rod Blagojevich (D): 49% (43)
Jim Oberweis (R): 37% (39)

Rod Blagojevich (D): 47% (40)
Ron Gidwitz (R): 33% (40)

As you can see by the HUGE gains Governor Blagojevich has made over the past few weeks, I'm guessing that something was seriously amiss with the last set of numbers Rasmussen released on this race. Of couse, it could have something to do with a biting Republican primary.

West Virginia U.S. Senate
Robert Byrd (D): 58%
John Raese (R): 32%

Robert Byrd (D): 60%
Hiram Lewis (R): 29%

Robert Byrd (D): 61%
Zane Lawhorn (R): 28%

This ... is terrific news. For months we heard from Senator Elizabeth Dole that West Virginia would be a state with a bullseye on it in 2006. But, much like the poor job she did recruiting in multiple states across the country (See Nebraska/Florida), the GOP is left-with third teir candidates that potentially make this race close only because of their ability to self-finance. Doesn't matter, Senator Byrd is extemely popular and looks to be well on his way to a walk in November.

Colorado Governor
Bill Ritter (D): 40%
Bob Beauprez (R): 33%

Bill Ritter (D) 41%
Marc Holtzman (R): 28%

Gary Lidstrom (D): 36%
Bob Beauprez (R): 37%

Gary Lidstrom (D): 35%
Marc Holtzman (R): 33%

I saved the best for last on this set of numbers. Now that Mayor Hickenlooper (D) has decided to sit out the race, the numbers for the Democratic candidates have surged. I say the best for last because Beauprez is absolutely shameless and insufferable. It was only earlier this month he was parading around the campaign trail in full military flight regalia despite requesting, and receiving, three deferments during the Vietnam war. What's worse, Beauprez has the worst voting record in Congress on military issues according to the Disabled American Veterans.

The New York Times ran a nice piece late last week providing a decent snapshot of where we stand as of right now in gubernatorial contests across the country.

At a time when considerable political attention is focused on the Democrats' uphill struggle to recapture Congress, leaders of both parties say Democrats appear to be in a much stronger position on another pivotal battlefield this November, the contests for governors.

Democrats have a strong chance to pick up a number of seats held by Republicans while keeping seats even in states that President Bush won in 2004, potentially allowing Democrats to put their view of government on display across a bigger swath of the country and strengthening their position for the 2008 presidential race, party officials said.

Among the states that could flip to the Democratic column are Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Ohio, all general election battlegrounds carried by Mr. Bush, as well as New York and perhaps California.

Play Ball!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Another radio station departs

I find it ironic that somebody who's spent 25 years in a field that promoted the demise of the human element in radio, is lamenting the consultant's success. Here's a quote from her article in the Boston Globe:

A farewell message to WJDA - The Boston Globe: "It's all part of a process that starts when the station is sold. The old owner departs, and the new owner takes over. People who worked there for years lose their jobs. Perhaps a small group of fans who liked the old station will try to save it. They'll write letters and sign petitions. But the FCC won't step in, and the changes will proceed, whether the public approves or not. And for those who loved the old station and can't understand why it's gone, there is a genuine feeling of loss."
Donna L. Halper is a radio consultant and media historian. She teaches at Emerson College and is the author of three books and many articles about broadcasting.

While I can't speak for Donna Halper or her method, consultants spent a generation pandering to radio station owners and managers who were alarmed at the popularity of disc jockeys. While they were happy that these local personalities accounted for strong ratings, the consultants convinced them that it was possible to achieve ratings success while downplaying the prominence of the disc jockeys. More music and less talk became the consultant's mantra and it fell on receptive ears. Radio station management and owners muzzled their disc jockeys and told them what to say, how to say it and when to say it. They did research and focus studies that confirmed that listeners wanted to hear more music and less talk and they didn't want disc jockeys talking over their favorite songs. Eureka!! Success!! Stations could have their cake and eat it too. If they could attract more listeners without having to pay for seasoned pros, then that was the route for them. And for a while, the concept worked. Every new format or change will attract new listeners for a period of time, but the listeners quickly grew tired of the boring repetition of the same "proven" songs. But the concept was an easy sell. After all, the consultant's goal was to produce a radio station that played the most and best music, and in their business plan, that would be the formula for success. While they pushed the more music and less talk formula, they discovered, oddly enough, that the stations that still talked over your favorite songs, were the ones doing well, at least for the time being. Now that anybody with an MP3 player and a connection to the internet can be their own more music station, with NO interruptions, the purpose of the consultant crafted radio station has been all but eliminated. What happened when the only reason for listening to a station became just the music? It's like when your new car gets dinged in the parking lot of Target by the person in the next space. Your reaction is going to be a lot different to the careless driver if he's a stranger than if he were a friend or neighbor. When consultants convinced radio stations that the disc jockey was a necessary evil, instead of a companion, a friend or just a human being, they set the stage for what's turned into today's dull and stale radio. And even if they wanted to go back to the old formula for success, where are they going to find the right people, at any price? All the good ones are either dead or selling real estate.

It's a no passion all repeat Tuesday

By way of the International Herald Tribune

For Jonathan Marks, the state of traditional radio is summed up in a despairing T-shirt slogan colored in neon pink and black: "Something's wrong with my radio It plays the same five songs over and over. "Long ago, he stopped tuning in commercial music stations in his native Netherlands because of general fatigue with prerecorded loops of songs that are as familiar as Christmas carols. "No wonder people are looking for alternatives to machine-playing radio," said Marks, a former Radio Netherlands producer who is now a media consultant there. "No passion. Just repeats." One hundred years after the first crackly broadcast of a human voice from Brant Rock, Massachusetts, to a shipboard wireless operator, the once staid and mature industry of radio is facing severe competition and major technological and structural changes to a business model established in the 1920s and 1930s. Strangely enough, though, it is the public broadcasters, like the British Broadcasting Corp., Radio France Internationale, Deutsche Welle or National Public Radio in the United States, that are flourishing by embracing new technology and strategies, while commercial radio operators are losing out to iPods, MP3 players and digital and satellite alternatives. In Britain, the BBC has increased its market share to 55.1 percent, according to surveys, taking its lead over commercial radio to its widest point in three years. The same trends are taking hold in the Netherlands and in Germany. Youth-oriented commercial rock stations - once a standard teenage emblem of identity and rebellion - are facing a revolt themselves. In France, where three rock stations lost a total of about one million listeners in surveys in the last quarter of 2005, L'Actu, a youth newspaper, published a front-page article in January about falling audience levels with a cartoon of tearful radio executives clutching the wayward heels of a listener with dangling ear buds. Youthful disaffection has had an effect in the United States, too. In New York in January, Infinity Broadcasting transformed K-Rock from an alternative rock format to talk radio, saying the station had been losing too many listeners to music downloads and Internet radio. It is trends like these that have convinced media analysts at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, the consulting firm, that the days of radio as a single broadcast product are ending and that stations will have to adapt to the digital world and alternative forms of distribution to reach a dispersed audience. "Historically, the commercial stations were focused on essentially music stations and a limited number of genres and songs and artists, because that was the way to get the advertising dollar," said Ed Shedd, a media partner with Deloitte in London. "The converging world really suits talk and chat and discussion, and that really plays into the hand of the public-service broadcasters that are more invested in talk services." The solution, Shedd said, is to sharpen strategies because "if you've got a tired old format, people run away from you in droves." Most commercial stations are already offering their programming on the Web in the form of audio "streaming," and some, like Clear Channel, the top U.S. radio station operator, have reduced advertising. Under its "less is more" policy, designed to address listener complaints about commercial clutter, Clear Channel is reducing advertising by an average of 20 percent across all its stations and increasing advertising rates. But public broadcasters are moving more boldly to increase their engagement with listeners - or "customers," as the broadcasters now often call them - in unlikely ways. Late last December, the public broadcaster Radio France Internationale revamped its news Web site, which includes podcasts and streaming. Podcasting allows listeners to subscribe to radio shows, with their music players downloading the latest episodes from the computer. Computer users without portable players can "stream" a specific program to their computer speakers. RFI offered a new bilingual crime serial on the adventures of a British journalist who awakens in a Paris hotel with a headache, breakfast and a parcel containing €20,000, or $23,700. RFI also created Web sites aimed at people learning French as a second language with slow-speed newscasts and archived items like Victor Hugo on the death penalty or Sidonie Gabrielle Colette's affectionate letters to her daughter. One site is aimed at French students, with exercises and quizzes, while another focuses on teachers, with current-events lessons and guides. "I love having these articles and exercises available," said Nikki McDonald, a high school French teacher at Duchesne Academy in Omaha, Nebraska, who added, "working with the transcripts improves their reading comprehension as well as their sense of French syntax. And as I am not a native speaker, listening to the broadcasts gives them a chance to hear accents other than mine." The new Web site for language training was a revelation for RFI, which plans to develop it further. Most visitors to their standard news site come from French-speaking countries, said Mathilde Landier, who is part of the team creating the new language learning site. That site is drawing in visitors from a new set of countries like the United States, Spain, China and Japan. "This made RFI realize that the French language-learning Web site was quite important," she said, because it is a "gate for new visitors." Radio Netherlands, a public international broadcaster with roots that date to 1947, is also seeking ways to engage with its broad audience, estimated at a weekly average of 30 million to 50 million, according to its director general, Jan Hoek, who expects the number of users to rise. "Nowadays what we do is being consumed not only through audio devices but consumed through the Internet and mobile devices, so that the word 'radio' is basically becoming outdated," Hoek said. In September, Radio Netherlands started a radio program aimed entirely at truck drivers, who can pick up the two-hour "On the Road" show throughout Europe in a variety of forms, from traditional radio to online streaming. Today, the giant of international broadcasting remains the BBC World Service, with a total audience that grew to an average of 149 million a week last year, up from 146 million a year earlier. But the nomenclature is changing for the BBC too. In his public statements, Nigel Chapman, BBC World Service director, describes a transformation of a "short wave radio broadcaster into a leading international multimedia network." Within Britain, the BBC has established a distinctive style, with live concerts and broadcasting of new music and unsigned bands. "Public broadcasters can have an advantage, as they can experiment and gain experience with new technology without the same financial constraints as commercial broadcasters," said Colin Donald, editor of Live Net Music, which tracks and lists the times when independent rock bands perform live through online radio. Just this month, the BBC stepped up its podcasting program to 50 shows for a trial period through the summer of 2006. But one of the issues is that this new media category remains elusive to quantify since podcasts may be downloaded but never listened to, particularly when people automatically "subscribe" to them. The BBC does not know how many people really listen to what is automatically downloaded, and it is not clear to the "multimedia" caster whether podcasts will turn into a commercial activity or will remain a giveaway. For Marks, the radio gadfly, podcasts are a form of a conversation that engage listeners. "The best type of radio," he said, "is one that shares emotions."

Sunday, February 26, 2006

'Old' radio fights satellite with HD as its weapon

By way of Philly.com

Would you pay $150 for a high definition radio receiver to receive better audio quality? Would you pay $150 for a special receiver to get satellite radio and then pay a monthly subscription fee on top of that? Old school radio is betting that you'll buy the HD receiver in order to get their programming. It's their answer to MP3 player and satellite radio. But right now, there are only a couple of HD manufacturers and brodcasters are trying to avoid the fiasco of AM stereo, where there were competing and no compatible receivers. This time they seem to have their act together on standardized receivers, but will listeners shell out that kind of money to hear the morning zoo or a better variety so you can listen longer?

An estimated 100,000 HD radios are in use nationwide - a mere blip compared with upwards of 500 million conventional radios. Like the guy down the block who bought a VCR in 1974, only true "early adopters" would even consider an HD radio now.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

9/11 Commission Chair Speaks Out Against Port Deal

Republican Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean*, spoke out today against the Republican plan to sell of six major U.S. ports to a foreign, state-owned corporation. The Associated Press:
Thomas Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey who led the bipartisan probe of the Sept. 11 attacks, said the deal was a big mistake because of past connections between the 2001 hijackers and the UAE.

"It shouldn't have happened, it never should have happened," Kean said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

The quicker the Bush administration can get out of the deal, the better, he said. "There's no question that two of the 9/11 hijackers came from there and money was laundered through there," Kean said.

Also of note in the article, President Bush says he refuses to reconsider the deal that places corporate interests ahead of national security ... again. The president has said before that he wasn't "all that concerned" with Osama bin Laden, but now it's becoming clear that he isn't all that concerned with national security in total. You might remember the last time the Chairman of the 9/11 Commission was forced to speak out on the president's national security creds. "It's not a priority for the government. A lot of things we need to do to prevent another 9/11 just simply aren't being done by the president or by the Congress." In fact, the commission found the president and his rubber stamp Republican Congress' were a collective failure in protecting the country -- giving them 1 A (and it was an A-), out of 41 categories in a post-9/11 progress report.

*Thomas Kean Sr. should not to be confused with Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in New Jersey, Thomas Kean Jr. (as much as Jr. would like you to)

How to get on a radio talk show

If you've tried calling your favorite local radio talk show and found yourself ending up on hold and never getting on the air, there are lots of things you can do to improve your chances. By the way, this will also apply to national talk shows as well. The first thing that you need to know, is that these talk shows consider themselves entertainment, not informational, political, instructional or otherwise. So you have to be sure that your demeanor fits their description of entertainment. This is actually very easy to do. As a sidenote, and this will apply to this thesis on getting on talk shows; have you noticed the the "winners" of radio contests are always women or girls and never men or boys? How is it that a woman is always the 98th caller for those concert tickets or CDs? Well, it's because women are generally more animated on the phone and will act more excited than a man when winning a CD or a pair of movie tickets. And that's what radio stations want to hear. The don't want to hear a Jackie Vernon sound alike on the air. The same rules apply to getting on a talk show, but what you say to the call screener is more important than sounding animated. Before we get into what to tell the call screener, let me tell you about that person's functions. A call screener may be called "technical director," "producer," or other lofty titles, but the call screener is usually a low paid employee who answers the phone and who may or may not run the studio control board silmultaneouly. You must get past the call screener in order to get on the air. The screener is looking for people who don't know what the subject matter is or who sound confused. If the talk show host is talking about the Iraq war and you call and say you want to discuss abortion, you're out of there. Also, bear in mind that the call screener generally will not hang up on you even if you sound confused and off topic. He or she will just indicate that you'll get on the air when they get to you, and he'll just put you on hold, where you'll remain for hours if you don't hang up. They have enough phone lines coming into the studio to be able to do this. If you find that the call screener starts coaching you by telling you to not say "thank you for taking my call," or he tells you not to mention any brand names and so on, then you can be sure you passed their test and you won't be put on hold indefinitely. When you get on the air, there's nothing to stop you from changing the subject to something other than what you told the call screener. The screener will put a brief summary of your topic on the host's computer screen, but once you're on the air, you're on. Keep in mind that the show is on a 15 second delay, so if you decide to curse or challenge the host in an aggressive way, they'll get rid of you before your comments make it on the air. Changing the subject from your stated one when you get on the air is an effective way of getting your point across because it will catch the talk show host off guard and this will usually prevent him from talking over you or cutting your off early. The notion that the airwaves belong to the public and that you'll be allowed to rebut an editorial opinion is quaint. Just try to do that on your local station and see how far you get. So the best way to get your message heard is to call a talk show, be sure that your subject is the same as the one they're on, and talk away when you get on. Using this method, you should have no trouble getting your local yokel talk show host to take your call. You'll should also be able to get on national talk shows as well, if you have the time an/or desire to wait on hold for an hour just to talk to a gassbag for a few seconds.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Working Americans ‘Still Can’t Afford To Eat’

In his State of the Union Address, the President promised to pursue “an agenda that will raise standards of living.”

But a study released today by the America’s Second Harvest shows that Bush has fallen short. Nine million Americans sought aid from food pantries and soup kitchens last year, even though they were members of households where at least one person had a job.

A look at why working Americans are struggling to put food on the table:

– After adjusting for inflation, wages have not risen during the last three years. In fact, real hourly wages fell for most middle and low-income workers in 2005.

– An individual who works full-time at the current minimum wage earns about $10,700 a year —$5,390 below the 2005 poverty line for a family of three, and $8,650 below the poverty line for a family of four.

– The inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage is 29 percent lower today than it was in 1979.

So far, Bush has succeeded only at creating low-wage jobs and long lines at the nation’s soup-kitchens.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Who makes $93,000 an hour?

Both satellite radio companies, XM and Sirius are battling for subscribers and until Sirius hired Howard Stern, it looked as if XM was going to go the quantity over quality route, emphasizing more channels and fewer commercials. Sirius hired more regular disc jockeys, while XM hired a few hosts to preside over some shows, but basically it remained a more music service. XM even emphasized the technology over the programming, by flogging the fact that you could drive across the country and have a continuous signal. Marshall McLuhan would be proud. Sirius' hiring of Howard Stern resulted in a big 4th quarter gain in subscribers, while XM says they're leaning towards running more commercials. Nevertheless, both companies have posted big losses.

As each company invested in attracting new subscribers, Sirius and XM reported net losses of $863 million and $666.7 million respectively for 2005. Sirius had the better return on investment with its fourth-quarter surge of subscribers, while XM signed only 900,000 new customers in the fourth quarter.

XM seems to have caught on to the fact that they're going to have to hire some recognizeable talent to justify people spending the money for the equipment and the subscriptions. They recently hired Oprah Winfrey to do a talk show for 30 minutes a week. While XM is gong to be paying Oprah $18 million a year to do her show. Certainly this is going to be an afterthought to her TV show, but who can blame her for not turning down $18 million to record a 30 minute show once a week, probably from her apartment in Chicago or her studio. I'm certain she won't be traveling to the Washington, DC XM studios to do it live. Stern's main focus is his Sirius show. MSN has an interesting article breaking down both salaries and pointing out that Stern's $150 million dollar a year contract works out to $93,000 a hour, an amount that most people don't make in a year. Certainly this is an exorbitant amount of money unless Stern becomes responsible for putting Sirius on the road to black ink. At that point, he'll be worth every penny and much more. XM will get some publicity out of the Winfrey deal, but she's not a radio person, and it may turn out that she's grossly overpaid if her hiring doesn't translate into a big subscription increase for XM.

As for me, you couldn't pay me $15 a month to put satellite radio in my car or home. I have all of the music I want on mp3 CDs and if I get a burning desire to hear "Satisfaction" or "Saturday In The Park" three times a day, I can listen to local radio and then turn it off when they begin their 15 minute commercial blocks. And NPR fills all of my real listening needs.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Gathering for the advance

With the election of Conservative Stephen Harper in Canada, fundamentalist groups are preparing to lobby what they now perceive as a friendly government.
More from the article:
This article from Richard Foot sheds some light on the gathering Christian fundamentalist groups who are now establishing "institutes" in Ottawa in preparation for lobbying what they perceive as a "friendly" government.
Many were also toasting their good fortune at coming to Ottawa at the same moment Stephen Harper's Conservatives had ascended to power.
Yes. What a remarkable coincidence. A better punch has never been pulled, especially in light of this comment from Derek Rogusky, vice-president of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada:

"Under previous governments a lot of us were branded as bogeymen, as somehow un-Canadian, for our beliefs. I think that has changed with Harper becoming prime minister."
The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada is a front for Focus On The Family, run by James Dobson from his Colorado headquarters. And, Dobson IS a bogeyman. He uses his unprecedented access to the Bush administration to expand the power and breadth of his for-profit fundamentalist Christian ministry and his political influence is overwhelming. Dobson led the charge which forced the withdrawal of one of Bush's nominees to the US Supreme Court and pushed for the nomination and confirmation of a rank anti-abortionist, constructivist conservative.
Read more here....

Democrats may unite on plan to pull troops

WASHINGTON -- After months of trying unsuccessfully to develop a common message on the war in Iraq, Democratic Party leaders are beginning to coalesce around a broad plan to begin a quick withdrawal of US troops and install them elsewhere in the region, where they could respond to emergencies in Iraq and help fight terrorism in other countries.

The concept, dubbed ''strategic redeployment," is outlined in a slim, nine-page report coauthored by a former Reagan administration assistant Defense secretary, Lawrence J. Korb, in the fall. It sets a goal of a phased troop withdrawal that would take nearly all US troops out of Iraq by the end of 2007, although many Democrats disagree on whether troop draw-downs should be tied to a timeline.

Howard Dean, Democratic National Committee chairman, has endorsed Korb's paper and begun mentioning it in meetings with local Democratic groups. In addition, the study's concepts have been touted by the senator assigned to bring Democrats together on Iraq -- Jack Reed of Rhode Island -- and the report has been circulated among all senators by Senator Dianne Feinstein, an influential moderate Democrat from California.

The party remains divided on some points, including how much detail to include in a party-produced document, fearful of giving too much fodder for attacks by Republicans.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Purple Heart group gets flak over nod to Sen. Clinton

The Newsmax.com readers get all worked up thinking that Sen. Hillary Clinton received an actual Purple Heart. Don't they realize she's not in the service? And now the Purple Heart is so sacred to them, but during the Republican Convention, they walked around with purple heart band aids on their faces in an effort to diminish the value of the Purple Heart and mock John Kerry's service. One of the Rush Limbo copycat local talk show hosts this morning was feigning indignation that Hillary Clinton would claim to be the recipient of a Purple Heart. Don't these people realize how the Purple Heart medal is awarded?

Scripps Howard News Service
February 20, 2006

WASHINGTON - It was a simple plaque, the sort handed out every day on Capitol Hill by interest groups showing their appreciation for a legislator's efforts on behalf of their cause.

In this case, it was the Military Order of the Purple Heart organization that presented an award to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., last Thursday.


But a story on the conservative media outlet NewsMax.com left the impression among some readers that Clinton had been awarded a Purple Heart medal itself by the group.

While the article described her award as "symbolic," its opening sentence implied otherwise. "New York Sen. Hillary Clinton has put in for a Purple Heart award - and she received the decoration yesterday," the Friday story said. Angry veterans erupted in protest.

Read the complete story here...

And here is the Newsmax story:


New York Sen. Hillary Clinton has put in for a Purple Heart award - and she received the decoration yesterday.

The former first lady garnered the award without being wounded in combat - or sustaining any kind of injury at all - as is usually the case with Purple Heart recipients.

Neither has Clinton ever served in the military, though she once claimed in a TV interview she tried to join the Marines.

Instead, Mrs. Clinton received a symbolic award from the Military Order of the Purple Heart "in recognition of her inspirational leadership and dedicated service to America’s military service members and America’s veterans."

Lead singer of The Cowsills dies as brother is buried

Anybody who grew up in the sixites will have vivid memories of The Cowsills. Most people will remember The Rain, The Park and Other Things, and Hair, but there was also Indian Lake and other major hits. Some people say that the hit TV show The Partridge Family was based on them. Here is the tragic news from the CBC:

CBC Arts: Lead singer of The Cowsills dies as brother is buried: "Billy Cowsill, once the frontman for 1960s family band The Cowsills, has died at his home in Calgary at the age of 58.

Family members confirmed Sunday that Billy died Friday night. He had been fighting a lengthy battle with a variety of ailments which included emphysema, osteoporosis and Cushing syndrome. But the family did not reveal what caused Billy’s death.

Paul Cowsill, brother to Billy, told the Providence Journal that Billy had a history of problems with drugs and alcohol which had “caught up with him.”

The family had been gathered in Rhode Island over the weekend for a memorial service for Barry Cowsill, a brother who was also a member of the band. Barry drowned in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in September.

The Cowsills were the inspiration for the 1970s television sitcom The Partridge Family. The act included parents Bud and Barbara, daughter Susan and brothers William (Billy), Robert, Richard, Barry, Paul and John.

The Cowsills also had their own TV special and performed as a headline act in Las Vegas. They had several hits including Hair, The Rain and Indian Lake. They disbanded in the early seventies and went their own ways.

Billy moved to Canada 35 years ago and continued his musical career with the bands Blue Northern and The Blue Shadows, which released two well-received albums.

In an interview with the Calgary Sun in January 2002, Billy admitted his life spiralled out of control in Vancouver during the mid-1990s. His Calgary friends came to his rescue: “They dragged me [back to Calgary], put me up in a facility and allowed me to get my health, my sanity … back.”

Around 2002, Billy was halfway through a psychology degree from Mont Royal College and had formed a “weekend party band” called the Co-Dependents. His family said he was working towards a degree in musical education when he died.

Cowsill is survived by two sons, Travis and Del."

A company that stands behind its products

In this world of voice mail, Montovanni on hold for 30 minutes, and companies that seem to make products that break 3 days before the warranty expires, it's nice to find a company that backs it's products completely. That company is L.R.I., which makes and sells Photon Micro Lites, a very bright LED light that you can put on your keychain. My son had one on his keychain for about 2 years. I've only had to replace the batteries once, but the second time I replaced the batteries, I couldn't get the light to turn off. I sent it back to the company (with the batteries removed) with an explanation that it was a few years old and that I probably bent the LED leads when I changed the batteries. About a week later, I received the original light back, repaired and reconditioned at no charge. Now THAT'S customer service. I hope this company is rewarded financially, not only by their quality products, but by the importance they place on customer service. I assume they're doing well because they've been in business for a number of years.

Great deals on batteries

An Unsolicited Testimonial

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

VP Accident fact check

The Vice President didn't lie about shooting his hunting buddy, he just wanted the facts to come out right. Yeah....that's it. He was interested in providing an accurate account to the liberal media. The same group that hates Bush so much.

The result: a week of shifting blame, belatedly acknowledged beer consumption (not "zero" drinking after all) and evolving discrepancies in how the shooting happened, its aftermath and the way it was told to the nation.

Read more....

Friday, February 17, 2006

Was Cheney trying to cover up an affair?

There may or may not be a relationship between Dick Cheney and Pamela Willeford, the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, but she was on the hunting trip with Cheney and lawyer Harry Whittington, when the vice president shot Whittington in the face. Why are two men shooting birds with two women other-than-their wives? Kathering Armstrong, the owner of the ranch where incident took place, relased the information about the shooting to a local newspaper. Why hasn't the media sought out Pamela Willeford to get her comments on what happened?

Read more on this story here...
and here...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Beer for my horses

Photo courtesy of PD Photo.org

From the Philadelphia Inquirer

The Missing Beer Or Two

Thought nothing of Lawrence O'Donnell's pickle-barrel musings in the Huffington Post yesterday, which carried the headline, "Was Cheney Drunk?"

But now Raw Story has made the question more interesting.

O'Donnell, the former West Wing exec producer who was chief of staff, for the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, wrote:

The L.A. Times is edging closer to the most likely reason for the 18 hour delay in reporting that the Vice President of the United States shot someone:

"This was a hunting accident," said Gilbert San Miguel, chief deputy of the Kennedy County Sheriff's Office. "There was no alcohol or misconduct."

How do we know there was no alcohol? Cheney refused to talk to local authorities until the next day. No point in giving him a breathalyzer then. Every lawyer I've talked to assumes Cheney was too drunk to talk to the cops after the shooting. The next question for the White House should be: Was Cheney drunk?

Among his evidence? The observation that rich Republicans sometimes drink riotously at Ivy League tailgate parties.

The Raw Story reports that an MSNBC Website post on the vice president's accidental shooting of a hunting buddy was edited to remove a reference to the alcohol that might have been available at a pre-quailing picnic.

Several lefty bloggers noted the change, starting with JohnnyCougar, who was commenting on Democratic Underground. Raw Story reported:

In the article, credited to Aram Roston and the NBC Investigative Unit, Katherine Armstrong, a member of the family who own the ranch, revealed new details about her lobbying for the Bush Administration, and about circumstances surrounding the incident itself, which wasn't reported to the media until the following morning. Armstrong was the one who reported the news to a local news reporter, and she said that Cheney agreed with the decision.

This was the missing paragraph:

Armstrong also told NBC News that she does not believe alcohol was involved in the accident. She says she believes no one that day was drinking, although she says there may have been beer available during a picnic lunch that preceded the incident. "There may be a beer or two in there," she said, "but remember not everyone in the party was shooting."

This is how the article appears now. This is how it was.

It might have been good journalism to remove this speculation, since the quote is messy. There may have been a beer or two "in there," she says. But she also says no one that day was drinking. I suppose someone could do an accounting. Interview some people. Maybe the vice president will address the matter some time.

An MSNBC.com spokeswoman is on the case. Will update.

Blame the victim

It's been months since I've listened to the national right wing talk shows like Rush Limbo, Sean Gahargity, Michael Weiner and the others. But I do occasionally listen to the local talk shows. They're basically Limbo wannabees and they just listen to him and recycle what he says. I figure I might as well be aware of the Roger Ailes, Fox News, RNC talking points. For the past few days, it's been really amusing to hear these guys and their sycophant "news casters" fall all over themselves trying to justify why Cheney shot a man and left it to a ranch owner to tell the media. They blamed the victim for not yelling at the hunting party. After all, they say, he should have made himself known as he walked up behind the hunters. They blamed the media for making a big deal about an accidental shooting. After all, this type of hunting accident happens all the time. Really? I don't remember the vice president of the United States shooing somebody all athe time. The other day, Daily Kos had a metaphor for the Cheney shooting in which he basically drew the parallel betweend the shooting and the way the administration operates. The secrecy, reluctance to reveal what they're doing, not taking responsiblity for their actions and above all, as we've seen numerous times, blaming the victim. There really is a double standard. Can you imagine what would happen if a prominent Democrat had an accident and failed to report it for 24 hours and then took 4 days to make a statement about it?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cheney story bigger than you think

Daily Kos has a very interesting metaphor for the Cheney shotgun incident.

It says everything you need to know about Dick Cheney personally, and the way this entire administration operates.

And the press does this all the time: they run with little things that display flaws in character: Al Gore's "Internet" quote to highlight his weakness for exaggeration; Kerry's "Voted for it before I voted against it" to highlight his weakness for equivocation.

In this case, we have Cheney and the entire Bush Administration foreign and domestic policy in a nutshell. Especially in Iraq and Katrina.

In this case, Cheney and friends were killing innocent creatures who were trapped in a pen with no hope of escape.

Overeager, Cheney hunted with a shoot first, ask questions later mentality, and managed to strike his own partner, and send his friend to intensive care.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Can this man be trusted with a gun?

I don't understand how the vice president couldn't tell the difference between a quail and a millionaire old Austin, Texas lawyer. What is especially interesting is that the vice president's office didn't report the shooting until 24 hours after it happened. It was first reported by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Spyware Barely Touches Firefox

Internet Explorer users can be as much as 21 times more likely to end up with a spyware-infected PC than people who go online with Mozilla's Firefox browser, academic researchers from Microsoft's backyard said in a recently published paper.

In side-by-side tests of Microsoft Internet Explorer and Firefox, IE proved to be far more vulnerable to spyware infections. Most of the exploits that leveraged IE vulnerabilities to plant spyware were based on ActiveX and JavaScript. One of the reasons people feel that Firefox is a safer browser is that it doesn't support ActiveX.

Read the article here: InformationWeek

The war president

Daily Kos comments on the cut in military benefits in the defense budget.
Read more here...

Keeping people on edge

Glenn Greenwald has an excellent commentary on the recent revelation that the President saved Los Angeles.

Read more at glenngreenwald.blogspot...

The Culture of Corruption

I've heard many people say that the Democrats need to have a message in order to win elections and set the agenda. I took this to mean that the Democrats need to stress "issues," but I've now come to believe that the term "message" is more effective. Democrats have stressed positive issues for a long time. Health care, tax cuts for the middle class and not just the wealthy, education, a strong defense, among others. But it hasn't done any good. Health care issues were turned into Hillary's socialist health plan that would ruin our economy and force everybody to go to government doctors. Democrat's budgets would ruin the economy. Remember when Republicans predicted that if Bill Clinton won the election, banks would fail and the economy would be in ruin? Republicans have learned the difference between issues and message. Their message is "your either with us or with the terrorists." They have the "clear skies initiative" while they cut pollution standards. Their message is "no child left behind," as they cut funding for public schools and give taxpayer money to help people send their children to private schools. They talk about "the culture of life" and fire up the execution chambers. They accuse Democrats of "giving the playbook to Al Qaida" because of a Senate committee investigation into this administration's illegal use of warrantless spying. Carl Rove once again laid out the Republican plan to make terrorism a political issue by painting Democrats as having a "pre 911" mentality. This from one of the slimiest political operatives, himself under investigation for threatening our national security by revealing the name of a CIA operative in an attempt to smear a US ambassador who dared to expose the corruption in this administration. So therein lies the Democrats "message." The culture of corruption. Twisting evidence to justify regime change. Lying about getting warrants beforehand to spy on Americans, lying when asked whether he would fire anybody in the White House found to have leaked information about the CIA, Bush said, "yes," then later changed it to the fact that he would fire anybody convicted of leaking. The Republicans have been very good at having a "message": Flip flop, tax and spend, weak on defense, didn't deserve his medals. Now, I believe the Democratic message should be Culture of Corruption. It's unfortunate that many people don't want to take the time to know the issues. I guess they're too busy working two jobs and trying to make enough money to put gas in their SUVs. Maybe they're just too busy watching "Survivor" and "American Idol" to care about the issues, which is probably why the Republicans have been effective in the use of their non-issue "buzz phrases." So let the Democrats hammer home some buzz phrases and let the Culture of Corruption be the main message.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bush uses 4 year old news to sell his wiretapping plan

The planned attack on a Los Angeles building four years ago is being used to sell the administration's warrantless domestic spying program. And it looks like the sale is working:
In a new AP-Ipsos poll, 48 percent now support wiretapping without a warrant in cases of suspected communications with terrorists, up from 42 percent last month. Half say the administration should have to get a warrant, down from 56 percent. Men in particular have come around to Bush's view over the last month, the poll suggested.

The media is dutifully covering what amounts to publicizing a 4 year old event. Some details of the alleged plot were made public a year ago. This event reminds me of the heightened Homeland Security Department color alert 4 days before the last presidential election. There was alleged "chatter" among the terrorists about blowing up a building in the Wall Street area. The problem was, the incident came from 2 year old information. But it was useful enough to boost Bush's poll numbers, which were down, just a few days before the election.

There's no evidence that the four year old Los Angeles plot was discovered by domestic warrantless spying. Rather, it was uncovered by "aggressive questioning" of terrorists suspects.

The complete story from AP:
Bush: U.S. Surveillance Helped Stop Attack - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON - Under fire for eavesdropping on Americans,
President Bush said Thursday that spy work stretching from the U.S. to Asia helped thwart terrorists plotting to use shoe bombs to hijack an airliner and crash it into the tallest skyscraper on the West Coast."

Read more....

Massive data sweep planned

We still haven't heard about how many terrorists have been identified by the warrantless domestic wiretapping program. So far the evidence seems to point to none, with a number of innocent American Citizens being monitored. Every means at our disposal should be used to track and monitor terrorists, even if it means spying on U.S. Citizens, but there's a mechanism in place for this procedure to be done legally. You may believe that this domestic spying program is illegal, but justified, because it's protecting us. But think about how you'd feel if the same powers were held by an administration that you didn't like. The Republican talking point that "we haven't had a terrorist attack since 911" is wrong and irresponsible. Wrong, because "we" haven't had an attack, but Spain, England and Indonesia have. Irresponsible because at some point, even according to this administration's prediction, the statement will be wrong. To make this boastful claim is to invite an attack, and we don't have to issue invitations. It's the talking points equivalent of "Bring 'em on."

US plans massive data sweep | csmonitor.com: The US government is developing a massive computer system that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government records and intelligence reports, search for patterns of terrorist activity.

The system - parts of which are operational, parts of which are still under development - is already credited with helping to foil some plots. It is the federal government's latest attempt to use broad data-collection and powerful analysis in the fight against terrorism. But by delving deeply into the digital minutiae of American life, the program is also raising concerns that the government is intruding too deeply into citizens' privacy.

Read more....

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Ben Goodger reflects on the history of Firefox

By way of Mozillazine

If you use Firefox as your default browser, you might be interested in it's history and how it came about.

Firefox Lead Engineer Ben Goodger has written a weblog post offering his perspective on the history of Firefox. Ben talks about how he got involved with Netscape, the relationship between Netscape and the Mozilla project, Netscape's communication problems, Netcenter's attempts to monetize the browser and its effects on UI design, David Hyatt's role in UI redesign and finally the recognition of the Firefox Brand today."

Read the story here...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Church charged with forcing the homeless to work for 28¢ an hour

Not only should this church have their license revoked since they were running an unregistered business in their basement, but their tax exempt status should also come under scrutiny. The fact that this church took advantage of desperate people to run a business is bad enough, but paying them 28 cents an hour and then browbeating them into working for pennies by threatening them with jail is reprehensible. Beyond that, they kept the pittance they paid to these unfortunate people and "donated" their pay to the church. So much for faith based iniatives. This is an example of your tax dollars at work. This church is supposed to be a beacon and a refuge to those who don't have money for food, let alone a place to live, and instead they use people as forced labor while the church lines its pockets with yours and my tax dollars since they don't have to pay taxes.

The complete story from the Daily Herald:

Daily Herald - Church rehabilitation program investigated: "SALT LAKE CITY -- A rehabilitation program at a church is facing possible revocation of its license following allegations that homeless men were forced to work as telemarketers for 28 cents an hour under threats of being sent back to jail.

Robert Ferris and Steve Sandlin, pastors at Central Christ Church, were notified by the state Department of Human Services on Thursday that the House of Refuge has 10 days to respond to charges before its license is revoked and the program is shut down.

Sandlin said he was preparing a press release with his response to the charges but had no comment Thursday.

The action follows investigations by KSL-TV and the department.

The department investigators concluded that the program's clients were forced to work as telemarketers in a basement business of the church.

The referred clients were paid roughly 28 cents an hour, but even those wages were withheld and instead donated to the church, a report by the department said.

The men were sent to the House of Refuge by judges or state agencies for rehabilitation from substance abuse.

Instead, the report said, the men were threatened with jail if they did not work for the telemarketing business, Transmetron.

Since the KSL-TV investigation began two months ago, state agencies have removed the House of Refuge from referral lists and have taken most of the men out of the program.

'They've already found other placements or have gone back home or have been pulled out by their probation officers,' said Ken Stettler, director of licensing at the Department of Human Services. 'I don't think they've got too many left, but they wouldn't let us in today.'

Francine Giani, executive director of the state Department of Commerce, said the Division of Consumer Protection also investigated the House of Refuge and found that the telemarketing company was not registered as a business in the state.

She said that Sandlin was told two weeks ago to shut down the company or register it. The company was not registered by Thursday, but Sandlin had indicated he would not run the company until it was licensed.

'Our investigators did go down and visit with the owner, and he did admit that he was doing telemarketing but claimed to not be aware of the statute,' she said.

In addition to the labor claims, the department's report also cites the church group for hygiene, saying one food handler had hepatitis C."

The Rule of Law

Karl Rove wants to make warrantless spying a partisan issue, but it's not partisanship and hardball politics. It's about respect for the Constitution and the law.

Is The President a Crook?

Two questions about the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation of the administration's unauthorized wiretapping:

  1. Why wasn't Attorney General Alberto Gonzales put under oath for his testimony?
  2. Why did he refuse to answer one of the central questions-why didn't the administration go to the FISA court to obtain warrants, even though they could have done so three days after beginning the wiretap?
The important issue here is to find out whether this adminstration violated the law and if so, for what purpose? The Democrats have to be careful not to fall into the Rove trap that by questioning officials of the administration about the possible violation of law, that we're handing Al Qaeda our playbook. This is nothing but nonsense. These hearings have nothing to do with the war on terror and everything to do with abuse of power and spying on Americans in the name of "protecting us." There are laws and mechanisms in place that allow the executive branch to conduct surveillance necessary to stay ahead of the terrorists. But they're required to follow the law in doing so. Even the Supreme Court has said that a war doesn't give the president a blank check. History and the rule of law demand that Congress get answers to why this administration feels it has the right to disregard the law. The question that remains is is the president a crook?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Are Radio DJs Going the way of the Buggy Whip?

By way of The Globe and Mail: Don't flay the DJ

There's a new hate-on for DJs among radio listeners out there, at least that seems to be the message in two billboard campaigns currently plastered around Toronto.

At the downtown corner of Richmond and Spadina, in the centre of the city's fashion, media and arts district, a billboard for the radio station 92.5 Jack FM extols its policy of no on-air DJs. The station actually went DJ-less in September, but it's now rolling out a big campaign advertising the fact.

Then across the street are two billboards for Radio Libre, a new Montreal-based Internet radio service. Radio Libre allows listeners to use their computers like radio to listen to music chosen by tastemakers and guest celebrities. For a fee, subscribers can also program their own preferences in music, post their choices for other users to peruse and generally become part of a Radio Libre community of amateur programmers. The selling point is that the service enables users to discover hard-to-find new music based on their preferences. In effect, the website helps listeners to be their own DJs.

So what are Jack and Radio Libre trying to tell us? At a time when satellite radio and podcasts are redefining the whole notion of radio, and with even more digital services planned by Motorola and Vodafone due out later this year that will turn cellphones into radios, is this the thin side of the wedge for DJs and traditional radio? Are DJs becoming as retro as an old transistor radio or a clunky, push-button car dial?

Emphatically no, says Patrick Cardinal, general manager and program director at 92.5 Jack FM. DJs may have gone from his station, but they still have a solid place in the industry. Traditional radio and DJs are still alive and well, he argues.

"What we've done is not a response in any way, shape or form to iPods, digital downloading and/or satellite radio. It's a response to other radio stations and a response to giving Torontonians another radio choice, not another choice vis-à-vis satellite radio," Cardinal says.

"You know, people have been predicting the demise of conventional radio for over 50 years, going back to when television started in the early fifties. Radio adapted. When eight-track tapes and cassette players came along in the sixties and seventies, radio adapted," he says, adding that it's now surviving the era of MP3 players and satellite radio. "And you know what? We're going to be here for a long time to come."

As a way to find a niche on Toronto's crowded radio dial, his station's no-DJ policy came about from market research and listeners' comments. "Every city is different. . . .There are lots of other radio stations [in Toronto] with DJs, and pretty good ones at that. We just want to offer something different," Cardinal says, noting that it wasn't a cost-cutting move.

The station switched to its Jack format in June, 2003, and is said to be the only Jack station in Canada that's currently DJ free. The format is actually licensed by Big Sticks Broadcasting Corp. in Long Island, N.Y., and SparkNet Communications in Vancouver. Most stations switching to the format usually start out without DJs anyway in order to emphasize the music, which on Jack stations is a kind of free-for-all mix of highly commercial songs across genres and across recent decades. Toronto's Jack FM is one of a number of Jack stations owned by Rogers Media and is Rogers's answer to CHUM's Bob FM stations with their equally varied play lists.

The Jack and Bob formats (and there are other stations dotting North America using similarly oblique guy names such as Dave, Simon and Mike FM ) target listeners generally in their 30s and 40s with songs that many are likely to have in their record collection, broadly ranging anywhere from the Rolling Stones and U2 to Depeche Mode and Van Halen. The play list is none too discerning, which is the whole point. Many have commented that the format arguably feels DJ-less to begin with, given its scattered song selection.

The Radio Libre Internet-based service, which is owned by Astral Media and is in French and English, comes at the no-DJ strategy from an entirely different tack. By selling itself as a way to discover new music, the DJs aren't typical radio people, but celebrities, tastemakers and you.

The service plays on your computer, with streaming audio that can't be downloaded. So you have to listen to it while at your computer. (Radio Libre does say, though, that it will offer some downloadable podcasts for subscribers. Podcasts are typically transferable to pocket-sized MP3 players and iPods.) But rather than being like traditional radio, where you can flip from station to station, this service offers various, free play lists of songs chosen by guests and celebrities. For a monthly or yearly fee of $6.99 or $59.99, respectively, you can choose your own genre preferences and rank the songs you hear. Through a technology called collaborative filtering, Radio Libre's computer program then matches your preferences with other Radio Libre users, with the aim of offering you music that may match your tastes more closely, but which you might not have heard before. (Vodafone's planned radio service, it seems, will offer similar personalized services via your cellphone.) Radio Libre subscribers can then post their preferences and participate in forums and blogs to share their choices, the service says. There are also links to purchase the music for permanent use.

"There's the community aspect, because you'll be in a position to share your musical profile with your friends and the experts. You'll be also in a position to participate in our programs because you're a subscriber," said Denis Rozon, vice-president and general manager. "So there will be a lot of interactivity."

In the end, everyone's a DJ. But listening to Radio Libre ends up feeling a lot like listening to Jack. Whereas the curious appeal of Jack is to sit through, say, an old ZZ Top track you'd never ordinarily listen to, Radio Libre offers a boundless array of little-known music you'd also never ordinarily listen to.

A few hours spent fiddling with my preferences and song rankings on the service somehow gets me no closer to my own tastes in music. The end result feels like flipping the radio dial, albeit with an infinitely more varied selection of relatively obscure music. Instead, I find myself continually gravitating to other people's choices. I know what I like, but have little interest in continually defining or ranking it. That's the job of a brilliant DJ.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Activist Cindy Sheehan Arrested at Capitol

It's like one of Bush's "Town Hall Meetings", if you disagree, you're not welcome. President Bush talks about spending the political capital he received (and lost) in the election. Doesn't Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in a regime change that had nothing to do with 911, quailify for any political capital to speak her mind? Instead she's called names by the right wing nuts and accused of being a traitor just because she doesn't support this administration's policies. She's villifed for not "supporting" the troops, but she's giving them the ultimate support by holding politicians accountable for their actions in sending our troops into harm's way.

WASHINGTON - Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier in who reinvigorated the anti-war movement, was arrested and removed from the House gallery Tuesday night just before State of the Union address, a police spokeswoman said.

Sheehan, who was invited to attend the speech by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., was charged with demonstrating in the Capitol building, said Capitol Police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider. The charge was later changed to unlawful conduct, Schneider said. Both charges are misdemeanors.

Sheehan was taken in handcuffs from the Capitol to police headquarters a few blocks away. Her case was processed as Bush spoke.

Schneider said Sheehan had worn a T-shirt with an anti-war slogan to the speech and covered it up until she took her seat. Police warned her that such displays were not allowed, but she did not respond, the spokeswoman said.